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Restoring Bay of Plenty Water catchments

Restoring Bay of Plenty Water catchments

Restoring Bay of Plenty Water catchments

At the northern end of Tauranga Harbour, all the water that passes through eight river catchments ultimately joins the northern harbour tidal flow at the heads between Bowentown and Matakana Island.

Increasing demands for urban development, intensification of horticulture and farming, and climate change have degraded these catchments and the harbour, with a corresponding flow-on effect on the ocean.

Since 2008, the people behind Project Parore have championed sustainable land use and environmental protection of these eight catchments, namely Waiau, Tuapiro, Tahawai, Uretara, Te Rereatukahia, Te Mania, Waitekohe and Aongatete. They aim to protect and restore land, waterways, and harbour habitats for the benefit of the community and native species.

Project Parore is the operating name of a registered charitable society called Uretara Estuary Managers Incorporated. The name comes from the native fish which used to be abundant in the harbour’s estuaries. Over the years, sediment flow from land development into waterways has led to the progressive destruction of their breeding and feeding areas, and the
re-establishment of parore habitat is one measure of the project’s eventual success.

Phillipa Wright, one of eight Project Parore board members and a local kiwifruit grower, says: “We’re all about practical efforts to improve water quality and reverse biodiversity loss. We help landowners to develop and roll out environmental plans. We work to enhance public land for the good of wildlife and the humans who enjoy it too. We also support research and monitoring so we understand and can show the impact of our work.”

A small professional team, led by General Manager Brodie Davis, does the day-to-day mahi, and there are three core aims underlying their work.

  • To stop soil, nutrients and pollutants from entering waterways by encouraging good management practices across all land uses.
  • To retire steep or marginal land, regenerate wetlands and plant streambanks and critical source areas to minimise the sediment load reaching the harbour.
  • To undertake ongoing weed and pest control to protect the habitat and wildlife that depend on it.

As Phillipa says, none of the effort necessary to protect and restore these waterways and whenua can be done in isolation. “We work alongside individuals, landowners, hapū and iwi, councils, businesses, community groups, schools and funders. Environmental restoration is an inter-generational challenge and catchments require time to recover.”

With a base in Katikati township, Project Parore’s work around this urban environment is led by their Katikati Environmental Activator Sharon Strong. The Renaturing Katikati programme has grown from a single weekly morning session at Haiku Park early in 2023 to a monthly calendar of activities like weeding, planting and pest control in several parts of town thanks to a growing group of local volunteers.

Phillipa and husband Stephen Kenna began planting the streambanks of their orchard, KW Kiwi, more than 30 years ago and have seen first-hand how the improvement in water quality enhanced populations of native fish and other creatures in and around the stream.

As Phillipa says, none of the effort necessary to protect and restore these waterways and whenua can be done in isolation. “We work alongside individuals, landowners, hapū and iwi, councils, businesses, community groups, schools and funders. Environmental restoration is an inter-generational challenge and catchments require time to recover.”

With a base in Katikati township, Project Parore’s work around this urban environment is led by their Katikati Environmental Activator Sharon Strong. The Renaturing Katikati programme has grown from a single weekly morning session at Haiku Park early in 2023 to a monthly calendar of activities like weeding, planting and pest control in several parts of town thanks to a growing group of local volunteers.

Phillipa and husband Stephen Kenna began planting the streambanks of their orchard, KW Kiwi, more than 30 years ago and have seen first-hand how the improvement in water quality enhanced populations of native fish and other creatures in and around the stream.

Last winter, Phillipa says Paul Wiltshier, Area Sales Manager for Fruitfed Supplies, got in touch about the availability of some manuka plants. “We didn’t need them at our orchard, but I saw an opportunity to connect Fruitfed Supplies and Nufarm, who sourced the manuka, with Project Parore. The manuka were planted in a team effort on a number of properties, as well as with other trees in the Waitekohehe Recreational Reserve. Building ongoing partnerships with businesses and organisations is essential to help accelerate the positive impact we can have on the environment.”

Project Parore is in the process of creating displays in the Katikati Fruitfed Supplies store entrance to highlight active projects, such as how to identify and eradicate key pest plants, undertaking pest management and so on.

Gavin Kerr, Country Manager for Nufarm, says he’s delighted they’ve been able to support Project Parore.

“Last year, I was talking with PGG Wrightson CEO Stephen Guerin about sustainability and how we could support growers. We initiated our sustainability programme with the aim of protecting up to 150 km of New Zealand farmers’ waterways through the planting of native trees.”

Gavin says he and his team could not have been happier to hear the difference these trees have made. “We’ve seen videos of plantings and had direct communication from growers and farmers. It’s been fantastic to see the engagement of local community groups and schools on tree-planting days. We look forward to continuing this partnership with PGG Wrightson to support the protection of New Zealand farmers’ waterways longer term.”